Toronto Star

Snow tires not right track for Ontario

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As of Nov. 15, Quebec drivers will have to equip their vehicles with snow tires from that day each year through to April 15. The province estimates 90 per cent of vehicles already use snow tires, while an estimated 500,000 people rely on allseason tires, so compliance is not expected to be a problem.

The law makes Quebec the first province to require winter tires, but perhaps not the last. Already, other provinces are mulling it over, including Ontario and New Brunswick. Should they?

Watching Quebec drivers and police deal with the new law will be instructiv­e, but it’s hard to imagine such an intrusive law making much of a difference.

A number of factors must be considered. First, average snow conditions vary wildly across the province. Some parts of southern Ontario rarely see snow, while the North is generally buried under it. Forcing drivers in Windsor to spend $800 on snow tires is unlikely to make roads safer there.

Second, municipali­ties clear their roads to different standards. If you normally drive in the North or on poorly maintained roads, snow tires should be a no-brainer. However, if you normally drive in the city or on the highway, you could be expected to safely use all-season tires as long as you modify your driving in slippery conditions.

Quebec estimates that the 10 per cent of the motorists who don’t use winter tires are involved in 38 per cent of winter accidents. In Ontario, the majority of the 27,000 motorists who lost control on highways last year did so because of poor weather conditions.

OPP Commission­er Julian Fantino is pushing to amend the Highway Traffic Act so drivers who get into accidents while it’s raining or snowing would be required to explain the precaution­s they took to adjust to the conditions. That’s a fair idea. Police generally agree accidents are caused by drivers and not by their cars or tires.

Although driving on summer tires in the winter is dangerous and illadvised, driving all-season tires in the winter is reasonable for most Ontarians. Forcing all Ontarians to buy winter tires is an idea that should not gain traction. This is an edited version of an editorial that appeared Friday in the Sudbury Star.

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